Friday, 28 August 2015

Friday finish - Taupe Zig Zag Strippy Four-Patch

Third and final instalment this week just about brings me up to date.  After the holiday, the wedding, the ongoing lack of computer, the scrappy sewing, I managed to fit in a trip to NEC Festival of Quilts and had an operation.  Oh, and my youngest got his A-level results and is off to university in 3 weeks... quite a busy summer.

I'll show you my finish first (linking to Crazy Mom Quilts: Finish it up Friday) and then a few Festival pics of much more accomplished quilts.

This is my Taupe Zig Zag Strippy Four-Patch which I resurrected and blogged about here, so this is a relatively quick finish (not counting maybe eight or so years languishing in the cupboard, of course).

I decided a while ago that I really must complete a few more of my many outstanding projects and being accountable on this blog really helps.  So I have been hand quilting whenever I have been away from my sewing machine, and with nothing else to sew on our holiday in Cornwall I got quite a bit done.

Since my op (planned and all fine, feeling surprisingly chipper) I have had even more excuse to sit around and do nothing strenuous, so I have FINISHED the quilting - hooray!
The quilt measures 55" x 59", with 4" four-patches and 8" borders.

And here are my two helpers:

So that's another crossed off the list, but so many more lurking: I can see that I will have to have a mammoth machine quilting session before too long to catch up, though I am itching to start some new quilts with the fabric I have bought this year at the various shows I have been to.

Which brings me on to the Festival of Quilts in early August, the biggest show we have in the UK, though I am  sure it would be dwarfed by the American shows.  Anyway it was a terrific treat to go along again, to soak up all the creativity and acquire a little more material to nourish my own.

I didn't take many photos and I have mislaid my programme so cannot credit the following (but will edit this post and add in details when I find them), but I did want to share these images with you.

As I am renewing my interest in paper piecing, and I love blue, I was especially keen on this quilt:

Fabulous fussy-cutting and quilting.

I also liked the refreshed version of the historic Mrs Billings coverlet:

And a version of Stonefields (colours are a bit off as my camera chose to use flash) but this is a fabulous quilt:

At the show I bought a kit for this small coin purse from Pinwheels, using iridescent Oakshott (I think from the Lipari range) and  it made up in a trice - so nice to do a small project in between the bigger ones:

I should have put a scale marker in the picture - the squares were 2 1/2" unfinished so the buttons are about an inch in diameter if that helps.

And finally, my lovely friend Marian made me some notebooks, having been on a bookbinding course.  She may say they are far from perfect but I love them; the handmade papers have the same appeal as fabric.

That's all, folks - enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Scrap Vortex, finished top and leftovers WIP

Still raining hard, our pond is nearly full.  Time for the next instalment of 'what I did on my holidays'. Clearly what I didn't do was keep up this blog, contrary to all my good intentions.  I was thwarted by our computer going sick and being at the menders for FIVE weeks, all because of some software that wouldn't install properly and then wouldn't uninstall.

I don't know all the technical phrases and ins and outs, but 'jolly annoying' would seem to be the politest way of putting how I have felt about its absence.  Unfortunately I am not very up to date with tech matters and don't have an alternative method of posting, so I have been incommunicado.  Need to get a grip on that side of things soon.

However I would always rather sew than learn new computer skills, so I have done a lot of sewing, some of which I will show you now.

First up is my Scrap Vortex quilt, blogged about here and in several subsequent posts.  It's 61" x 66". Big enough as I'd like to try spiral quilting and I don't want too much of a wrestling match...

I had such fun making this, and it fitted in around other projects, so that when I fancied a bit of free machining I could add a few strips to the component blocks.  Then, when I felt I had made enough 'chunks' I would start the jigsaw process of putting them together into slabs.

As I have said in an earlier post, I really appreciated Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts running this as a recent QAL, or I might never have decided to have a go.  She gives lots of hints and tips which are really helpful, but I thought you might like to hear what I learned from my first time experience of the process.
  • That this is a great introduction to improvisational piecing, as there is a clear structure and overall plan but within that you are free to play with colour, texture and scale.
  • That when it seems to be getting bland you must throw in something strong - bright or dark or both!  Even if you think it won't go it will be just what's needed to give depth to your piecing, so it doesn't turn into mush.  If you are nervous you can keep the strong/bright piece relatively small.  Have a look at the photo above, you will see what I mean.
  • That wonky is OK but I think this design works better if you keep the axes roughly north-south, east-west, vertical/horizontal: square up regularly and you will find the slabs fit together more easily.
  • That there are a LOT of seams and you need to press regularly and well to keep the pieced slab manageable.
  • That you get a more interesting quilt if you keep your pieces relatively small.  Big wodges of one fabric take away from the delicious intricacy: my favourite areas of the top are where there is the most detailed piecing.  This does take time - sometimes you will feel you have done a lot of piecing and still have quite a small chunk to show for it: it is worth persevering though - again, have a look at some of these pics and see if you agree.  The smallest pieces measure about 1" x 2".
  • That it makes a terrific mess, because you need to have access to all of your fabric all around you - or I did anyway - and all the little bits which are so important in your quilt shed lots of little threads everywhere. And you don't seem to be using up fabric as fast as you think you should given the amount of time you are spending machining and pressing, because the bits are so small (compared to making a regular quilt, that is).  But remind yourself that quite apart from the messy fun you are having this is going to be a 'free' quilt top, from fabric you have paid for but might have thrown away - that always works for me!
  • If you are finding that piecing the small stuff just doesn't bust your scraps fast enough, why not make a second quilt at the same time which uses bigger bits, as I did with Scrapper's Delight?

And there are moments of serendipitous joy: along the way I discovered mixed into my bag of scraps the leftover ends of binding I had made for other quilts, so now I have the makings of a scrappy binding just waiting for this top to be quilted!

So if that top is finished, what's my WIP to link today with Lee at Freshly Pieced: WIP Wednesday?

Well, you know I said about not using up big scraps fast enough?  Even after the Scrapper's Delight blocks were finished I still had strips in my bag that by now I was pretty tired of.  So I tackled yet another of the quilts I like from Sunday Morning Quilts - Candy Coated.  And here's my progress so far.

Nearly at the bottom of the bag...

Monday, 24 August 2015

Wedding quilts, wedding flowers.

Gosh, what a long time since I last posted, and what a lot has happened in the past six weeks. Sorry for the silence: various reasons and I will try and recap, though I may split everything up into several posts.

When I last blogged I was scurrying to get the Wedding Stars quilt together before going on holiday, my friend's daughter's wedding to take place shortly after our return.

A deadline is a wonderful thing (in retrospect) and I managed to get the top stitched and pressed, ready to take with us to Cornwall, where I purchased a lovely blue check flannel for the backing at Cowslip Workshops in Launceston on the way home.

My friend Chris, the bride's mother, will be longarm quilting the quilt shortly and I will show you some more photos when the quilt is bound and ready for delivery.

We had a week of beautiful weather on the Roseland Peninsula to relax and enjoy some family time, with long walks every day, bar one, along the South West Coast Path.

Not bad for England in July: as I write this now we have had torrential rain all day, so I am feeling sorry for all the holidaymakers (especially the ones camping) who are trying to enjoy the last week before the schools go back...

And one shot of glorious West Country hydrangeas, just for the colour - we can only grow pink ones on our chalky soil.

Back to the wedding: having known the bride since she was born, (Jane, Chris and I met when expecting our first babies, all born a few days apart, twenty six years ago) I was privileged to help Jane prepare the flowers and dress the venue, a lovely old barn.  It was a perfect place and blessed with perfect weather on the day.

Here are a few pictures: very Country Living magazine, I hope you'll agree!

Not only did Chris make the most beautiful wedding dress for her beautiful daughter, she made this lovely quilt which picked up the pink and light blue colours of the bridesmaids' dresses.

 For vintage-style bunting, see my tutorial here.

And here are some close ups of the flowers:



OK, probably too many shots of the flowers, but I just love them.   And as I helped Jane, I was struck by how like making quilts it was, making up the little bunches and bouquets and doing the larger arrangements: it's all about colour and texture, selecting flower and foliage to contrast and complement within a chosen palette.  

For a seasonal note Jane included poppy seed heads and sprays of blackberries as well as lavender from her garden.  Jane doesn't make quilts but I'm sure you'll agree, she makes fabulous flower arrangements!

One photo of the amazing cake, which tasted as wonderful as it looked.

And a final posy; it is so nice for me to remember that special day in pictures, especially as summer is now almost over, I hope you'll forgive me the indulgence.  

More quilty stuff in my next post!